Meal prep is a great way to free up your time, but it can also help with an elderly family member’s independence. By preparing a number of meals in advance for the next week (or month), you gain valuable hours throughout the day that would otherwise go to cooking. You can also use meal prep to aid with another type of freedom – helping a family member keep their independence even while they receive home care assistance.
For many, making the decision to begin a home care program can feel like the end of independence in their daily lives. However, the intent of the professional caregivers and nurses who provide home care is quite the opposite! Home care is meant to provide support for someone who wishes to age-in-place, that is, stay living in their own home as they get older, rather than transition to a full-time care facility such as a nursing home.
If one of your family members has started a home care assistance program, they may feel a loss of independence as they learn to rely on someone for their daily needs. Helping them with meal prep is a great way to give them a hand with taking care of themselves and keeping a sense of accomplishment. Though you may have to be present to help cook the prepared meals if their mobility is limited, it will help throughout the rest of the week as they are able to easily reheat what you prepare together.
Consult with your loved one’s doctor for the ideal foods for their meal prep menu. Present multiple options they can choose from to retain a sense of control over what they are eating. Pepper it with their favorite meals and nostalgic dishes to make it extra special. If they have difficulty with mobility, you may need to assist with grocery shopping in addition to meal prep. Make a special day of it every week or month to secure the items they need and catch up with what’s going on in their lives.
If your family is too pressed for time for extra shopping trips and cooking, there are also many meal services in cities that offer seniors meals, either delivered day-of or frozen and delivered in advance. Even if they require the assistance of a home care nurse to heat them up, the difference that a delicious, healthy meal can make on someone’s self-esteem is major! Look into local options for your family for nutritious options for your loved one.